As an independent, local business, it probably feels pretty overwhelming when trying to decide how best to market your offerings and attract customers. A quick google search on ‘how to market my business’ probably brings up all manner of mad suggestions, that work well (brilliantly, even) for big budget international companies. But running a simple keyword targeted Google Ads campaign is unlikely to help penetrate the local market.
Some of the local businesses I’ve supported over the years have been really focused on only attracting customers from their areas. Already having such a small geographic location to look at is helpful as you’ve already reduced your target audience size – and it’s likely that you already know who the users of your product or service will be.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of some tips and tricks that hopefully prove useful. You can always get in touch if you’ve tried other things that have worked! I’d love to hear about it. All of these ideas are designed to get you off the ground – before we start complicating things with segmenting and creating well-rounded value propositions!
1. Free Google Listing
This kind of feels like a no-brainer, but there are still so many businesses out there who aren’t listed on Google. 3.5 billion searches happen on Google each day and according to this article from HubSpot, 46% of searchers are looking for something local – and what’s more, 88% of local searchers will visit, call, or otherwise interact with a business on the very same day.
The free Google listing means all of your core information will be right there, exactly when your prospective customer needs it. This is also a great way of generating reviews, and keeping an eye on how people feel about your products and services!
2. Local Groups and Communities – but digital
There are an extraordinary amount of communities and local groups on Facebook, as one example. I’m talking Facebook here because, thanks to the ‘rule of six’, online will be your best bet at least for the next few months of really reaching your local customer base.
The best thing to do with these is to interact. Post some information about your business if the group rules allow, but keep it brief and to the point. Think about what your business is offering to the community – why would they want to hear about it?
And of course, don’t just post it and leave it. If people comment or ask questions, engage with them. Marketing covers all kinds of community interactions, but in local situations this is more important than ever. Community builds trust, and trust will keep your customers coming back.
3. Flyers and Posters
I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this anymore, because print is so not ‘in’ at the moment. But if you have a local community noticeboard (Supermarkets are good for this!) there is absolutely no harm in pinning something up. Actual flyering on the high street is probably out at the moment though – nobody wants to get a virus with their information.
4. Customer Loyalty Programmes
This can be so simple to implement and will help you to do a couple of things. It will enable you to develop lasting and meaningful relationships with your existing customer base, and encourage them to return to your business again and again.
It will also provide a positive value-add for your existing customers, giving them a reason to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Using existing customer networks to find new potential customers is one of the best routes to expand your local reach – take your existing user base and turn them in to advocates.
5. Local Partnerships
I love a good partnership marketing opportunity, and specifically local business can benefit from creating a partnership strategy too. Working alongside other local businesses in the area has a two-way impact by letting their customers know about you and vice versa, but it also can enable both companies to make powerful statements about their brands or reinforce their existing ideals.
For example, a local sports team might partner up with an independent physiotherapist and/or an independent pub/restaurant. Audiences (or, those watching in a virtual way, these days!) of the sports team might go on to look up the partnered Pub and go on to book a table – if it’s good enough for their favourite team then it’s good enough for them!
It’s also worth having a look for any local lifestyle blogs and approaching them to see if they could cover your business – most often this is done by offering them a product/service to review.
So those are five good starting points for developing a specifically local marketing plan. I’ve kept it to five because it’s probably easier to look at a shorter list and achieve more than 50% of it than it would be to be given a list of 20 things and achieve a quarter. We all know I could go on about the other areas (paid geographically targeted adwords, using social media channels effectively, email newsletters) and how they can be used for local businesses, but I suspect it’s not that helpful.
The best approach to take when looking at your local market is to work out the most efficient routes to your ideal customer and prioritise those.
Want to chat a bit more about local community marketing? Get in touch with me today.
Featured image: lets love our community by Mike Erskine via Unsplash